O’Neill returns home for Fowler, family and finals hopes

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The guidance of a Liverpool legend, finals aspirations and the opportunity to return home are what drew midfielder Aiden O’Neill to Brisbane Roar this season.

The 21-year-old has re-signed with English Premier League side Burnley FC, where has been under contract since 2016, but will enjoy a season-long loan to Brisbane Roar for the 2019/20 season.

He made his A-League debut last season on loan to the Central Coast Mariners, where he scored four goals over 23 appearances and took home Mariners Player of the Year.

Under loan-contracts O’Neil has played for English sides Oldham Athletic and Fleetwood Town but said he was looking forward to playing in his hometown.

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“Being born in Brisbane this is my club, I will be in front of a lot of family and friends so it’s fantastic,” he said.

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But he said family and friends were not the only aspects pulling him home to Brisbane with the opportunity to play under Liverpool legend Robbie Fowler weighing on the decision.

“When someone’s played at that level you know they instantly get that respect of he’s played at the top level, so everyone listens to him and takes on board what he’s saying, and he always demands the best of everyone which is key.”

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The midfielder said training under coach Fowler had been “intense” but all the players were enjoying it.

“It’s been excellent, he demands a lot from us…every day he wants us to train at our best because the way you train is the way you’re going to play.”

Fowler’s “intense” training may prove integral for the club to fulfil O’Neill’s aspirations to reach the finals this year, after finishing ninth in 2018/19.

“Top six I would definitely aim for us, every game we just have to take it as it comes and be at our best and play the football that we want to play,” he said.

“We have got a lot of more overseas-based players in Brisbane this year and that’s only going to benefit us.”

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A top sixth finish may keep the young player interested in extending his loan-contract but he said he was not ruling out returning overseas next season.

“It’s definitely an aim of mine to go back overseas and I’ve still signed a new contract there at Burnley, so I am still on loan…to go back there is a big thing for me as well,” he said.

The first test for O’Neill to prove he has what it takes to aid the club’s fightback to the top will be this weekend when Roar faces defending premiers Perth Glory.

Roar will travel to Perth’s HBF Park in their first game of the season on October 13, kickoff 5pm (AWST).

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Kate Mednis
Bachelor of Communications and Journalism student. Intern covering the A-League and W-League home matches. Sports fanatic!